June 29th, 2008

krazy koati

Bringing his sweet serenade to her door

I'm one of the Top Ten Finalists for the 2008 Robert Benchley Humor contest. I owe particular thanks to gafennec, bunny_hugger, and skylerbunny for their help putting my entry together. (The winners will be announced sometime later, possibly within the next month.)

So, I came home from a bit of necessary shopping and as I got in the door my father told me it was urgent I call my brother. I had my doubts that it was urgent -- my father seems to think anytime a sibling wants to talk with me it's urgent -- but I put down my things, got a soda, and called. My brother's first words after he noticed it was me: ``Who's Robert Benchley?''

My brother has my name on a Google News Alert system so whenever I post anything to Usenet he gets a copy, which is not so inhibiting as you might imagine because he finds it mostly too dull (or out of context) to bother reading. And by an odd stroke of luck there's a professional hockey player with our family name and he's having a good year so that clogs things up too. But now and then it turns up actual news, and one of them was the announcement of the ten finalists for the prize.

He -- and, later, my father -- wanted to know why I hadn't told them I was a finalist. Well, although I was told in e-mail that I had made the short list, the mail also asked that I not publicize this until they made the formal announcement. (The letter said they would make the announcement on June 16, but then the mail also addressed me as ``Denise'', which I was told in follow-up was a mistake.) While I have always been confident in my chances I was waiting for public declarations before I'd be sure they meant me. In fact, it still hasn't been posted to the official Robert Benchley Society web site. The news was broken through a sister site and the blog of a former winner. My father insists that I could have told him without breaking the news story's embargo; well, perhaps.

My brother thinks the best part of this is that I have something I wrote to be funny being read by Bob Newhart. I agree strongly. My father was stuck trying to think of who Robert Benchley was -- I explained he was a great humor columnist and comic actor of the 1920s through 1940s (he asked if he was still alive) -- although finally Wikipedia pointed out he was part of the Algonquin Round Table, which was where he'd heard of Benchley from.

Trivia: The first message Reuters received, from the Paris office, of the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand read, ``Sarajevo Ferdinand Deste assassiné''. The story is a subeditor expecting the results of the Paris Grand Prix horserace took this to be the top three standings. Source: The Power of News: The History of Reuters, Donald Read.

Currently Reading: The Siege of Eternity, Frederick Pohl.